​​​​School of Art Academic Requirements

Statement of Purpose

The School of Art offers professional training for artists, photographers, media-makers and graphic designers by providing both the studio environment and the intellectual context that encourages artistic experimentation. Graduates of the School become innovators and leaders in their disciplines by learning to challenge preconceptions -- both personal and institutional -- and to engage fully in the contemporary discourse of their fields.

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Residence Requirements

The four year, 120 unit Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts programs require a minimum of one year full-time study in residence. The 60 unit Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts require a minimum of two years full-time study in residence.

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Curriculum Requirements

Each Program in the School has a different set of requirements, outlined below. Within the constraints of these separate frameworks students are expected to forge an individualized course of study in order to create an independent body of work. As a consequence of this, students are encouraged to work with a range of faculty in their Program, in the School, and, where appropriate, across the Institute.

Students must successfully complete a Mid-Residence Project/Review, for undergraduates this is usually scheduled at the beginning of the Third Year of study and is intended to assess progress; for graduate students this is scheduled during the second semester of the first year and is predicated on a public presentation of a body of work. To graduate all students must complete a final project and present it in a public forum. This project will be subject to a final Graduation Review. Details regarding review procedures and scheduling are available on the School website.

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I. Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree candidates must complete forty-six units of Critical Studies coursework: Certificate of Fine Arts candidates do not complete Critical Studies courses. All other requirements for the Certificate of Fine Arts are identical to those for the BFA. Critical Studies requirements are detailed in the Critical Studies section of this Course Catalog.

Students are required to formulate a course of study in discussion with their mentor; this plan must fulfill the requirements laid out in the following pages. There is a mandatory meeting with the mentor at the beginning of each semester designed to check on progress towards the degree, and to plan and design the work for the upcoming semester.

Third year students are required to develop a project that is fit for review by a committee of faculty during the Mid-Residence Review. All fourth year students must present finished work in a public forum: an exhibition, screening, site-specific installation, publication design, or equivalent approved format. This work must be presented at a Graduation Review for discussion and approval.

In order to graduate all students must demonstrate an understanding of the history of their art form, and of the theoretical discussions that animate it. This means they must successfully complete eight units of history or criticism (classes identified by the prefix AIC). It is recommended that students take one course in Art History or Criticism per semester until the requirement is met. The following are particularly recommended, and in some programs required:

  • AAIC103 What Makes it Art?
  • AAIC265 and AAIC266 Modern Art History in Review
  • AAIC275 and AAIC276 Historical Survey of Graphic Design
  • AAIC300 Visual Semiotics
  • AAIC310 History of Photography
  • APHM420 a-z Theory and Contemporary Issues
  • FAIC420 Film History
  • FAIC400 Film Today
  • FAIC475 History of Experimental Film
  • FAIC421 Film History II 1950-Present
  • FAIC170 or FAIC171 History of Animation BFA1
  • MAIC425 Survey of Sound Art
  • DAIC174 or DAIC175 Modern Dance History

We also expect students to look beyond their chosen métier and experiment with a different view, and to that end all students must take at least two units outside of the School of Art (courses starting with the letter “A”) and School of Critical Studies (courses starting with the letter “C”).

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II. Winter Session/Practicum

The first two weeks of instruction in the Spring semester fall outside the regular class schedule. Across the Institute Winter session opens up an ever-changing range of interdisciplinary possibilities, and in the School of Art Practicum offers technical workshops and studio production. BFA1, 2 and 3 students in the Art School are required to take two workshops during this period, one from their home Program and the other from any Program or School. BFA 4 students in the Art School are required to take a minimum of one workshop, which can be chosen from any Institute offering. It is expected that such students will use the rest of the time to prepare final projects and exhibitions.

Graduate students are expected to use these weeks as a serious block of time for studio work and meetings. Some Practicum workshops may be open to graduate students without credit, by permission of instructor. It is recommended that Graphic Design PMFA students take two Practicum workshops for no credit.

Registration for these classes takes place online during the last couple of weeks of the Fall Semester.

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III. Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts

Students are required to formulate a course of study in discussion with their mentor; this plan must fulfill the requirements laid out in the following pages. There is a mandatory meeting with the mentor at the beginning of each semester designed to check on progress towards the degree, and to plan and design the work of the semester.

Students must develop and complete a project during their first year, and present it in a public forum. This project will be subject to faculty review during a Mid-Residence Review.

During their final year students must develop and complete another, more ambitious project, again for public presentation. The School does not limit the type or context, but students must develop the project in consultation with their mentor, according to Institute guidelines. This project will be subject to faculty review during a Graduation Review in the final semester of residence.

The course of study for the MFA in the Art, Photography and Media and Art and Technology programs may be either two or three years, with two years the norm.

A student may request a third year of study (particularly if working in Integrated Media, or towards an Interschool degree). A proposal requesting a third year must be initiated during the month following the Mid-residence Review. A final decision will be made by the end of the second semester of the first year by a committee consisting of mentor, appropriate Program Director and Dean, in consultation with the faculty.

Graphic Design offers a two year MFA program and a three year program for candidates who lack the minimum requirements for graduate study in graphic design.

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IV. Integrated Media Concentration (MFA Only)

The IM option offers a supplemental curriculum which consists of Integrated Media seminars and critiques in addition to specified courses in the student's program of entry. Students will also be expected to take electives chosen from a wide-ranging list of courses currently offered throughout the Institute.

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Program Requirements

The following courses are required but do not constitute a student's entire program.

I. Art Program Requirements

Art Program Learning Goals

By the time students graduate from the Program in Art (BFA and MFA), they should have:

  • Conceptualized and created works which evolve from the students' personal vision and purpose, in their own voice and on their own terms.
  • Understood the relationship of an artwork's formal, conceptual and historical properties in relation to the context of their chosen audience.
  • Acquired experience with a broad range of mediums and options for the creation of work, in order to make specific choices.
  • Developed a foundation of problem solving skills and concepts which support the intention of the artist in their artistic practice.
  • Achieved the technical and conceptual ability to interpret the works of other artists through the understanding of visual language.
  • Successfully completed a mid-residency review and a graduation review.

The BFA Program in Art is structured to provide a strong foundation for achieving these goals, leading to individualized studio practice. The MFA Program in Art is designed to achieve these goals while providing a great degree of individualized instruction from the outset.


Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts

Each student will fashion a course of study in consultation with the mentor. The first two BFA years are intended to create a strong foundation for art making and critical thinking; the final two BFA years are intended to allow more personal exploration, grounded in one-on-one study, exhibitions or projects, and corresponding reviews.

To complete the BFA, an undergraduate must complete a total of 9 units of Independent Study.

BFA3 students are required to pass a 3 unit BFA Mid-Res Project, coinciding with the student’s mid-residency project or exhibition and mid-residency review.

BFA4 students are required to pass the 3 unit BFA Final Project, coinciding with the final exhibition and final review.

It is recommended that BFA students take one Independent Study within the Art Program each semester, beginning in the second year. The maximum number of independent studies with Art Program faculty per semester is 2.

BFA1 students are assigned 1 unit of Independent Study in the second semester, however they can take Independent Study in the first semester if they wish.

Each student must complete at least 5 units of practicum or winter session coursework including Art Hazards.

To complete the BFA, an undergraduate must complete a total of 8 units in Studio classes, including Foundation Studio AART104. These classes can be selected from the Studio Series, or other classes designated as Studio classes.  The Studio Series classes are designed for undergraduates, and it is recommended that BFA1 and BFA2 take at least one class each semester from the Studio Series.

First Year
Required Courses:
  • AART101 and AART102 Foundation: Certainty and Doubt
  • AART104 Foundation Studio
  • AAIC103 What Makes it Art?
  • One assigned Independent Study (AART199) during the Spring Semester
  • Practicum: One workshop and the Art Hazards workshop (AART010) during the Practicum with a third workshop recommended.

One class each semester from the Studio Series (see below). Note: not all Studio Series classes are offered each semester. AART104 Foundation Studio counts toward the required 8 units of studio courses.

  • AART211 Drawing
  • AART212 Painting
  • AART213 Sculpture
  • AART214 Print & Digital Media
  • AART215 Video
  • AART216 Social Practice
  • AART217 Ceramics
  • AART218 Open Studio
  • AART219 Performance
  • AART220 Writing
  • ACOM218 Digital Skills for Artists
Second Year
Required Courses:
  • AART201 Post Foundation Seminar/Critique: What's Goin' On? (Fall)
  • AART203 Post Foundation: Visiting Artists Forum (Spring)
  • Both sections of Modern Art History in Review (AAIC265 and AAIC266) must be completed during the second year.
  • Practicum: Two workshops during the Practicum
Recommended Courses:
  • One Independent Study Each Semester (AART299)
One class each semester from the Studio Series: (see below). Note: not all Studio Series classes are offered each semester.
  • AART211 Drawing
  • AART212 Painting
  • AART213 Sculpture
  • AART214 Print & Digital Media
  • AART215 Video
  • AART216 Social Practice
  • AART217 Ceramics
  • AART218 Open Studio
  • AART219 Performance
  • AART220 Writing Workshop
  • ACOM218 Digital Skills for Artists
Third Year
Required Courses: 
  • A 3 unit BFA Mid-Residence Project (AART398) coinciding with the mid-residence review, typically in the fall semester.
  • Practicum: Two workshops during the Practicum
Recommended Courses:
  • Two Art Program classes each semester
  • At least one Independent Study (AART399) each semester
Fourth Year
Required Courses:

A final project or exhibition is required, in consultation with the mentor.
  • A 3 unit BFA Final Project (AART498) coinciding with the final exhibition or project in the Spring semester
  • Practicum: One workshop during the Practicum
Recommended Courses:
  • Two Art Program classes each semester
  • At least one Independent Study (AART499) each semester

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Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts

Each student will fashion a course of study in consultation with the mentor. Each MFA student will present a project or exhibition during both the first and second year. MFA-1's in their 2nd semester are required to complete a 5-unit MFA Mid-Residence Project (AART598).

In the final two semesters of residency, the student is required to pass a 5 unit MFA Final Project (AART698) coinciding with a final exhibition or project.

MFA 1
Required Courses:

  • AART598 MFA Mid-Residence Project

It is highly recommended for MFA1 students to take at least one Graduate Independent Study (AART 599) per semester. The maximum number of independent studies with Art Program faculty per semester is 2.
    MFA 2
    Required Courses:

    • AART698 MFA Final Project
    It is highly recommended for MFA2 students to take at least one Graduate Independent Study (AART 699) per semester. The maximum number of independent studies with Art Program faculty per semester is 2.

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    II. Graphic Design Program Requirements

    Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts

    Learning Goals for THE Graphic Design BFA Program

    During their time in the program students should have:

    • Created work that demonstrates a mastery of the principles of design.
    • Understood and explored design within different contextual situations.
    • Applied research and analysis to create thoughtful and inventive design.
    • Addressed a variety of design briefs while expressing a compelling point of view in the work.
    • Critically evaluated their own work and that of others.
    • Created visually and conceptually imaginative work.
    • Encouraged collaboration with other designers as well as students from other disciplines at the Institute.

    The program of required courses in Graphic Design provides a structure for developing conceptual, formal and critical skills that align with the core studio classes (Graphic Design I through IV). As students progress through the program there is an increasing emphasis on independent work. Required courses are:

    First Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA101 and AGRA103 Graphic Design I (Lecture)
    • AGRA102 and AGRA104 Graphic Design I (Studio)
    • AGRA105 Design Issues
    • AGRA110 Skills for Visualization
    • ACOM111 Digital Design Lab I
    • ACOM112 Digital Design Lab II
    • AGRA121 Intro to Digital Photography
    • Practicum: One workshop and the Basic Screenprinting Survival Workshop (AGRA001) during the Practicum with a third workshop recommended.
    Second Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA201 and AGRA203 Graphic Design II (Lecture)
    • AGRA202 and AGRA204 Graphic Design II (Studio)
    • AGRA215 Typography I
    • AGRA216 Typography II
    • AGRA421 Image Making I
    • AAIC275 and AAIC276 Historical Survey of Graphic Design
    • Practicum: Two workshops during the Practicum
    Third Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA301 and AGRA303 Graphic Design III (Lecture)
    • AGRA302 and AGRA304 Graphic Design III (Studio)
    • AGRA315 Typography III
    • AGRA316 Typography IV
    • AGRA430 Beginning Web Design or
    • AGRA460 Beginning Motion
    • At least one program elective each semester.
    • Practicum: Two workshops during the Practicum
    Fourth Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA401 and AGRA403 Graphic Design IV (Lecture)
    • AGRA402 and AGRA404 Graphic Design IV (Studio)
    • AGRA451 Professional Practice for Graphic Design
    • At least one program elective each semester.
    • Practicum: One workshop during the Practicum

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    Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts

    Learning Goals for THE Graphic Design MFA Program

    During their time in the program students should have:

    • Realized conceptually and formally imaginative work.
    • Contextualized a project within design history and theory.
    • Articulated the intentions and context for a project, and critically evaluate its outcome.
    • Conducted independent research and developed of a methodology for exploration, elaboration and refinement of ideas.

    At the start of the third semester of residence, MFA2 and Advanced Certificate candidates will submit a thesis proposal for approval by the faculty. The major portion of graduate students' time and energy during the Fall Semester of their final year of residence will be spent working on the thesis project, which should be directed toward both practical investigation and theory. The Spring Semester of the final year is spent applying/exploring what has been learnt from the thesis in a body of work, or completing/developing the thesis.

    PMFA Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA551 and AGRA553 Visual Literacy (Lecture)
    • AGRA552 and AGRA554 Visual Literacy (Studio)
    • AAIC575 and AAIC576 Historical Survey of Graphic Design
    • AGRA674 Typographics IA, IB
    First Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA501 and AGR503 Graduate Seminar I (Lecture)
    • AGRA502 and AGRA504 Graduate Seminar I (Studio)
    • AAIC575 and AAIC576 Historical Survey of Graphic Design
    • AGRA662 Graphic Design Theory I
    • AGRA674 Typographics IA, IB
    Second Year
    Required Courses:
    • AGRA601 and AGRA603 Graduate Seminar II (Lecture)
    • AGRA602 and AGRA604 Graduate Seminar II (Studio)
    • At least one program elective each semester.

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    III. Photography and Media Program Requirements

    Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts

    LEARNING GOALS FOR THE Photography and Media BFA PROGRAM

    By the time students graduate from the BFA Program, they should have:

    • Developed a foundation for making art within the context of contemporary photography and media practices. Students study these practices in relation to a theoretical analysis of representation, through a sequence of seminars and lectures covering history and theory, and application through practice.
    • Studied a variety of image-making technologies and techniques to support their practice with a strong and knowledgeable tool-set.
    • Explored, experimented with, and developed a series of art projects and should be able to contextualize the work historically, conceptually, and personally.
    • Developed and sustained an idea over a number of projects.
    • Presented finished work in a public forum: exhibition, screening, or equivalent approved format.
    • Successfully completed a mid-residency faculty review and a graduation review, including written artist's statements that demonstrate an ability to articulate intention and awareness of the work's context.

    Classes required to graduate:

    • the First Year Foundation Sequence
    • History of Photography
    • Undergraduate Seminar
    • Undergraduate Critique (2x)
    • Advanced Topics in Photo History (2x)
    • Visual Semiotics
    • Critique and Exit
    • Technical Workshops (1 per semester)
    • Independent Study
    • Practicums

    Visual Semiotics can be taken at the BFA2, 3, or 4 year level.

    Advanced Topics in Photo History courses are normal métier courses that, within the topic it explores, also covers the history of photography and media in a substantial way. In addition to the History of Photography APHM310, BFA students are required to take a minimum of two courses that count as Advanced Topics in Photo History. Advanced Topics in Photo History can be taken at the BFA2, 3, or 4 year level.

    Mentoring:
    Each student is required to maintain regular contact with their mentor, including two meetings per semester and regular consultation on their course schedule.

    Requirements by year level:

    First Year

    Required Courses:

    • APHM101 and APHM102 Foundation Seminar and Critique
    • APHM103 New Lab
    • AAIC310 History of Photography
    • APHM001-099, one technical workshop each semester
    • Practicum: Art Hazards Workshop (AART010) and one additional workshop during the Practicum with a third workshop recommended.
    Second Year

    Required Courses:

    • APHM201 Undergraduate Seminar
    • APHM305 Undergraduate Critique
    • AAIC300 Visual Semiotics (optional)
    • Advanced Topics in Photo History (optional)
    • APHM299 Independent Study, one each semester
    • APHM001 - 099, one technical workshop each semester
    • Practicum: Two Practicum workshops
    Third Year

    Required Courses:

    • APHM305 Undergraduate Critique
    • AAIC300 Visual Semiotics (optional)
    • Advanced Topics in Photo History
    • APHM399 Independent Study, one each semester
    • APHM001 - 099, one technical workshop each semester
    • Practicum: Two Practicum workshops
    Fourth Year

    Required Courses:

    • APHM415 Critique and Exit (second semester)
    • AAIC300 Visual Semiotics (optional)
    • Advanced Topics in Photo History (optional)
    • APHM499 Independent Study (one each semester)
    • A final thesis project or exhibition is required, developed in consultation with the mentor.
    • APHM001-009, one technical workshop each semester
    • Practicum: One Practicum workshop

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    Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts

    learning goals for the Photography and Media mfa program

    By the time students graduate from the MFA Program, they should have:

    • Developed a distinctive and substantive body of work.
    • Contextualized an individual art practice in historical, conceptual, and personal terms.
    • Developed and sustained a critical dialogue about artworks, one's own and others, in relation to contemporary and historical discourse, and a theoretical analysis of representation
    • Gained the ability to conceptualize and execute a professional exhibition or other presentation of work, as demonstrated through at least two public presentations in the form of gallery exhibitions, screenings or other approved projects.
    • Developed the ability to maintain a professional studio practice, supported by a Fall Intensive study with a dedicated faculty member, during the third semester of residence, leading toward a final project.
    • Successfully completed a mid-residency faculty review and graduation review, including written artist's statements that demonstrate an ability to articulate intention, context and reception.
    Required Courses
    The overall requirements for graduate students in the Photography and Media program include: A total of two Graduate Critique courses and two Graduate Seminars within the Program over their two years; one exhibition or other public presentation of their work per year; and a one semester Fall Intensive in their second year. A recommended break down of this follows:
    FIRST YEAR
    Required Courses:

    Graduate Critique (APHM515) (first semester)
    Independent Study with student's Mentor (APHM599) (first semester)
    1 Exhibition or other public presentation of work

    Recommended Courses:

    It is highly recommended that MFA1s take at least one Independent Study (APHM599) per semester and one Graduate Seminar (APHM525) within the Program their first year (two Grad seminars in the Program are required for graduation). Students can also take a second Graduate Critique course their second semester.
    SECOND YEAR
    Required Courses:

    1 semester of Fall Intensive study (APHM698) see description below.
    1 Exhibition or other public presentation of work

    Recommended Courses:

    During their second year, it is highly recommended that MFA2s take at least one Independent Study (APHM699) per semester, one Graduate Critique (APHM515) and one Graduate Seminar (APHM525) within the Program (the latter adding up to 2 of each by graduation).

    Fall Intensive: A concentrated Independent Study for the fall, or third semester of the student's residency, which helps them prepare for their final project in the spring, or fourth semester. Toward the end of their first year, students write an initial proposal for what they would like to work on and they are matched with a faculty member suited to engage that particular work, which can include project development, research, critique and writing in service of the project. 

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    IV. Art and Technology

    Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts

    LEARNING GOALS FOR THE ART AND TECHNOLOGY MFA PROGRAM

    By the time that students graduate from the MFA Program in Art and Technology, they should have:

    • Developed a substantial body of work that articulates a distinct personal vision using a broad range of practical, conceptual and technical problem solving skills;
    • Actualized the complex dialectic between the creative process and emerging forms of new technologies;
    • Forged an informed multidisciplinary art practice through physical and intellectual effort, creative research and critical analysis;
    • Demonstrated an ability to think critically and communicate persuasively to a chosen audience about the cultural, historical and political issues inherent in technology and culture; and
    • Successfully completed a mid-residency and graduation faculty review of work that exhibits a personal artistic expression and a critical point of view.

    Students enrolled in the MFA Program in Arts and Technology must demonstrate competency through their Graduate Project, which consists of an exhibition of a final body of work and a presentation of their critical research with accompanying documentation. The Graduate Project is supervised by an individual mentor and a faculty committee. The student's Graduate Project must demonstrate an innovative and creative use of new forms of media and technologies within the context of a cogent critical premise.

    First Year
    Required Courses:
    • ATEK510 Art and Technology Studio I
    • ATEK511 Art and Technology Studio II
    • ATEK520 Conversations on Technology Media and Culture
    • ATEK530 Networked Studio and Critique
    • ATEK531 Research and Practice: Seminar
    • ATEK599 Two Independent Studies
    Second Year
    Required Courses:
    • Technical Elective
    • Studio Elective
    • ATEK620 Technology, Culture and Critique
    • ATEK630 Research Development
    • ATEK640 Creative Research
    • ATEK699 Two Independent Studies (Fall Semester)
    • ATEK699 Two Independent Studies (Spring Semester)
    In Addition:

    4 Approved Academic Courses (over the course of the 2 yr. Residency)

    The Independent Study requirements in the second year can be substituted with an elective.

    There is also a group exhibition in the MFA1 year and a final thesis exhibition in the MFA2 years.

    There is also a research and presentation requirement for the Thesis Workshop.

    There are 2 reviews that are required for graduation, one at the end of the MFA 1 year and one at the end of the MFA 2 year.

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